Monday, September 28, 2009

First Frost - Shutting down the garden

PeterC saw the first frost for our area, in an open field just a few blocks up the road, on Friday. Dead on schedule. Pretty darned amazing if you ask me. Our yard was frost free because we have several trees, but I do think some of the taller plants in the garden got a touch of it. The higher leaves on the volunteer pumpkin/gourd (looks like a pumpkin but producing bizarre looking gourds) have turned yellow as have the cucumber plants.

That means it is the end of gardening season. Everything that is still doing well, like the carrots, beets, and second planting of spinach will continue on for a few more weeks. The beans are almost done drying on the vine and will be picked soon for storage. The squash are done, pulled up and the soil turned. The broccoli is nothing more than chicken treats now. The sweet potatoes never bloomed but in another month we will find out if the planter idea worked.

It is this time of year that I really wish we had a proper root cellar. With all the potatoes, beets, gourds, and carrots we need someplace to keep them so they will last through the winter. In the past we have tried keep them on the stairs to the basement but it just gave the mice unlimited food. Maybe this year I will wrap the produce in newspaper and straw and store in the garage. I know they will keep out there for a few weeks longer than they will in the kitchen, maybe even into January. Even a couple of extra months is better than nothing at all.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chicken Pictures

This is exactly what the title says, a series of pictures of the girls. Some of the girls are quite the hams while others prefer to ignore the camera.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Upper Canada Village Fall Fair

We made a trip down to Upper Canada Village yesterday, mostly to restock our flour supplies, and found we had arrived during the fall fair. Since we had missed the fair each previous year we decided to have a look see. There was a stage for performers, animals being judged, and of course the exhibit tent.

I was delighted to discover that there were a number of chickens being shown. I saw Barred Rocks, which were huge, and bantam fighting cocks which were tiny, and several breeds in between. Based on the Barred Rocks at the fair I'm actually beginning to think that our Barred Rock Putz is actually a pullet. That means we won't have to get rid of any of our chickens.

The exhibit tent was interesting in the variety of things shown. There were historically accurate spinning, weaving, knitting, and crocheting works. There were ink and watercolour pictures of various things around the village. There were various vegetables all of which far outweighed my measly attempts at gardening. There was a dessert display but all the desserts were replaced with a hand written sign stating "The Raccoons had a Dessert Party!". What was even more amusing was the very obvious, and LARGE, raccoon footprint on the tent wall.

We only spent a couple of hours there but is was interesting, and quite refreshing, to see especially when compared to the more commercial fairs seen in the communities. Some part of me definitely belongs in the yesteryear.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Cool! Moment

PeterC and I were walking the dogs and decided to sit on the end of the neighbourhood wharf to look at the sky. We do that a lot, look at the sky. If we are outside and it is even remotely dark one or both of us is looking up. Anyway, I asked him to point our Cygnus, the constellation, to me as we had just been talking about it early in the evening. He points it out and then points out another group of stars. I follow where he is pointing and he asks, do you see that blob near the end of the line?

It takes a minute but yeah, if I don't look directly at it I can see what looks like a cluster of stars. They are a faint blob with brighter dots throughout. Once I confirm that yes I can see it and verify exactly what he is showing me he announces "Congratulations you've just seen the Andromeda Galaxy." Not only did I seen another galaxy but I saw it with my naked eye. How cool is that?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A Hint of Fall

This past weekend we were reminded that fall is indeed on its way. The air was cool, even during the day, and the sky was that deep cornflower blue you get when a cold front moves in. We spent a good deal of time just sitting and watching the world go by, though we did get the storm windows made and mostly painted for the chicken's coop. We had two fires in the evenings and it was cool enough to sit as close to the fire pit as possible. Fall is definitely my favourite time of year, followed closely by Spring, and then Winter.

Since we were outside so much the chicks got to free range. Not really free range so much as spend several hours outside in the temporary yard we made for them. We used some bamboo posts and the left over fencing from the garden to make a yard that connects to their coop and to their tractor. They love being able to spend time in the yard chasing bugs, each other, and on a couple of occasions small wrens that flew a little to low to the ground. That last one surprised me. Who knew chickens would stalk and chase small song birds?

Allowing the girls to run free until dark we did discover that they put themselves to bed around 7:30 pm. I'm not sure if there is a signal from the leader or if they just all live and work on the same internal clock, but at 7:15 they all start moving single file up the ramp into their coop. They then spend the next 15 minutes jostling for the best location on their roosts, which seems to be next to the smaller window on the west side of the coop. By 7:30 all is quiet and a quick peak in the window shows heads either tucked under wings or drooping down in front as they sleep soundly.

We sat out by the fire until 9:00pm or so, moving inside as the neighbours all started their weekend parties with loud song, chat, and laughter. This will be the first of many weekend fires for us, but the last for most of the neighbours. That suits us just fine since we prefer quiet evenings and lots of stargazing as opposed to listening to other people's stories and frantic chatter as they try to stave off the coming darkness. For us, the darker and the quieter it is makes for a better evening for us.